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Joe Sacco: The Maltese Falcon

By Marty


Shining down on the Walker like a dope ray of sunshine, Joe Sacco gave an artist talk Tuesday, November 13th.

Hailing from Malta, Sacco is a comics-journalist who goes to overseas countries and spends time living with, studying, and interviewing the people who live there. Unlike most journalists, Sacco has the opportunity to learn on his own time and spend a few months where he stays because Sacco don’t answer to no one. Upon returning to his home, he begins on what is typically a 2-3 year journey in drawing comics and describing what he’s seen.


Unlike the self-lauding, nitpicking questions-askers on Tuesday, Sacco conducts himself with a poise and humility that’s hard to find this side of the blue, when someone referred to him as a ‘sequential artist’ he answered with ‘I’m just a cartoonist’.

He got his start by working on his high school newspaper where he says he learned the most about journalism. He had always drawn and used it as a hobby, and also did some comics-journalism when traveling with rock n’ rollers and recording his adventures in a now compiled ‘But I Like It. His interests lay in international stories, however, and he knew he might not make it there using the traditional route of written journalism. The rest is history.


Placing himself as a character in his comics is an interesting departure from yer run-of-the-mill journalism. You’re able to experience the story in a 1st and 3rd person perspective. Also, his art is super-dope. Inspired/influenced by Crumb, this comes through in Sacco’s own self-deprecation and visual style (cross-hatch up the waz’). After seeing him speak, you’re not only impressed by his art and work, but interested in all aspects of his job. At least I was, maybe some bozos out there wouldn’t be. He comes off as a guy who’s been deeply humbled and inspired by his experiences, and he strives to portray honesty in his work.

We wactac’r(z) got to meet with Joe Sacco, and, fortunately (at the risk of being found dumb) I was dumbfounded as what to ask him. Luckily he has a lot to say, a lot of which was enlightening and inspiring. However, this didn’t deter the many so called ‘young people’ referred to by an old man in a few rows up- to ask questions themselves.

A good tip for artist talks: Don’t forget to introduce yourself and state what you do/why it’s relevant to the artist/your favorite food to the artist before asking your question that will wash over the awe-inspired audience like a lukewarm, rambling breeze.

With his worldly perspectives, accrued wisdom, aesthetically pleasing and spellbinding art, and journalistic endeavors; Joe Sacco’s got something for everybody, from the oldest of fogies to the hippest of hipsters. Now that’s somethin’ I can jive to!

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